Preparing the Electrical Components

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Every RC car has certain internal electrical components which we will use to interface with the Arduino. The most obvious of these is the large circuit board called the Control Board. This receives the radio signal from the remote and translates it into commands suitable for driving the motors.

The motors

The most important electrical components in an RC car are the motors. There are two motors, one used for driving and one for steering. The motor used for driving is the largest, more powerful motor and is almost always a DC motor with 2 wires.

The Interceptor's drive motor in its housing.

The steering motor is usually smaller as is does not need to provide enough power to move the entire vehicle. In some vehicles this is another DC motor, however in some more expensive models it is a regular servo motor. The servo motor has the advantage of proportional control which means that we will be able to specify how much the car is to turn. If the steering motor is a DC motor the car can turn only fully one way and fully the other.

The Interceptor's steering motor in its housing.

Disconnecting the motors

We will need to disconnect the motors from the control board. This can sometimes be done by disconnecting a small plug connector, from the circuit board. Other times you might have to cut the wires.

Disconnecting the motor wires.

Power

Your RC car will be powered with some sort of battery system, either rechargeable or perhaps AA or AAA batteries. We are going to divert this power to the Arduino so that we do not have to add a second battery box.

The Interceptor uses a 6V rechargeable battery pack.

Usually, the power supply is hardwired directly onto the control board, so we will need to divert this power by soldering onto the correct connections. This will give us the added bonus of being able to use the ON/OFF switch to control the flow of power.

Since we want to connect this either to a breadboard or the Arduino, we should use a jumper wire. Cut one end off and strip about 1/8 inch off the end. Solder to the points specified so that the current will flow only when power is applied.

Notepad.gif TODO: how do you know where to solder?

Warning.png WARNING: Soldering should only be done under adult supervision.

Solder the black wire to negative and the red wire on the switch terminal.

Now, we can divert the power to the Arduino.